A lot of rain and snow in California this winter, inspired me to this car’s snow-handling ability test. While it is clear that OEM tires alone will limit snow traction, I am somewhat curious, so I loaded my skis and poles and went to Lake Tahoe. I can easily exchange snow-friendly suv with one of our fleet, but I am determined to make golf SportWagen snow work because I still believe it is a suitable (and absolutely cheap) alternative to cross-similar size.
Like many Volkswagen / Audi products, this golf ball has a ski-in-the-middle back seat. I suddenly opened the seat back through. This allowed my skis and a pair of friends to ride comfortably while keeping my two seats open for both skiers. Using ski slopes also frees most of the rest of the warehouse for the rest of my cumbersome cold ski gear.
On the road with gear packed and snow falling, I arrived to the slippery highways of the California high country and soon discovered the shortcomings of a FWD on snow-packed roads. Tire slip kept the stability control on notice, the yellow light flashing at me often. Yet overall, having a manual transmission helped modulate traction better than if this car was equipped with an automatic. A switch to a more dedicated snow tire would have made travel easier, but regardless I didn’t regret not having AWD or a higher ride stance. Of course, had I encountered deeper snow, it would have quickly piled up under the car and left me wishing I was driving a crossover, but left with mostly just slippery surfaces, the SportWagen managed admirably.
Loading at the end of the day meant dragging lots of snow into the car via our boots and bindings, but having the MonsterMats in the footwells prevented the carpet underneath from getting wet. Unfortunately, those same rubbery mats had to be removed before I could use the cargotech blocks to position my ski boots under the heat vents for drying.